There are 8 bones in the wrist. They attach to the bones in the forearm and the bones in the hand. When your child breaks a wrist, he or she may have cracked or broken one or more of these wrist bones or the ends of the forearm bones that connect with the wrist bones.
The usual causes of a wrist fracture are:
Symptoms may include:
Your provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and how the injury happened. He or she will examine your child. Your child will have X-rays of the wrist.
A child's bones are different from an adult’s bones in a couple ways. A child’s bones are more flexible and may crack rather than break. Or they may just buckle slightly. Also, the bones are still growing from areas near the ends of the bones called growth plates. A fracture in a growth plate may affect the growth of the bone but it may be hard to see with X-rays. Sometimes special tests are needed to diagnose fractures in the growth plate.
The treatment depends on the type of fracture. If the broken bone is crooked, your healthcare provider will straighten it. Your child will be given medicine first so the straightening is not painful. Sometimes surgery is needed to put the bones back into the correct position.
The wrist may need to be set in a splint or cast to keep it from moving while it heals.
Follow the full course of treatment your healthcare provider prescribes. Also:
Depending on the type of injury and how it was treated, your child may need to do special exercises to help the wrist get stronger. Most of the time preteen children are so active that their legs get stronger and more flexible without physical therapy.
Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests. Call your healthcare provider if:
Wrist fractures may take 6 to 12 weeks or longer to heal. Some fractures do not heal and need surgery. Some children may develop stiffness in their wrist. Fractures that go into the growth plate may affect future growth, sometimes resulting in a crooked wrist.
Everyone recovers from an injury at a different rate. Return to normal activities depends on how soon the wrist recovers, not by how many days or weeks it has been since the injury has happened. The goal is for your child to return to normal activities as soon as is safely possible. If your child returns too soon the injury could get worse.
Your child may return to normal activities when they have full range of motion in the wrist without pain. Your child's injured wrist, hand, and forearm need to have the same strength as the uninjured side. If your child returns to using the wrist too soon after a wrist fracture there could be problems with healing. It is very important to be sure that none of your child's activities cause wrist pain or tenderness.
Most wrist fractures are caused by accidents that are not easy to prevent. Your child should wear protective wrist guards during activities like rollerblading.